Dear One, You Can Always Begin Again

“The Christian life is a series of new beginnings.”

I perked up, chuckled to myself, then wrote it down as quickly as I could. With a single sentence, my pastor confirmed what had been stirring in my heart for weeks.

Friends, I was not prepared for the quiet and fierce work God has been up to in my soul. He’s been super sweet–here’s what he’s been teaching me:

The sins we commit after trusting Christ can produce a tricky type of shame.

Shame has set up camp in my heart for far too long.

Here’s a hard truth: the worst sins of my lifetime were committed after I knew Jesus. I fell in love with my Savior, then let the world win over my heart.

And sure, I know that once I met Jesus, all my past failure was wiped clean. And I understand that I can’t be perfect as a believer. I think I’ve assumed I should be pretty darn close, though.

I’ve heard countless testimonies of individuals formerly entrenched in sinful lifestyles. I cheer as they proclaim their new life in Christ. They speak of Jesus as a former enemy that has become a precious friend, and I shed tears. I’m thrilled to witness their healing and joy.

Still, a small part of me wonders: Is there grace for me even if I spat in the face of my friend?

Have you been here? Do you hear that you’ve been made new, but you just can’t quit returning to that one day? That one moment?

I hope you know you’re not alone.

Because of shame, we settle for a relationship with God that is lacking.

When I was a new believer, I couldn’t get enough of being with God. I’ve always been a night owl, and I remember staying up an extra hour or two to read, journal, and pray. I woke up excited to talk with my Creator. I loved sitting in Abba’s lap; I felt so cherished by him.

Sadly, my overwhelming shame slowly convinced me that I’m a defective Christian. And the old me? The new-to-Jesus-and-super-joyful-Gabrielle? That was a one-time thing.

I let guilt become increasingly familiar, and I eventually settled for entering God’s presence always feeling a little condemned. Or I just wouldn’t go to him at all–I’ve spent a lot of time hiding.

Christ frees us from shame and invites us to start over.

Thankfully, Jesus never stopped looking for me. I couldn’t hide from his ferocious love.

What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

Luke 15: 4-5 (ESV)

He’s been working for a long time, and this past week, I couldn’t ignore him. It started with the message at church on Sunday. Then, I was reading Galatians this morning and came to chapter 2, verse 20.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

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After trusting Christ, this was my favorite verse. I loved how it summed up so much of my new relationship with Jesus–I was dead to sin, alive in Christ, walking by faith, and reveling in his sweet love for me.

But once shame crept in, I thought it was an ‘old me’ verse. I’ve actually been wandering around without a favorite verse for some time because all of them were too pure for messed-up me.

Jesus knew. And as I read it today, he gently spoke to me.

You can always go back to the beginning, dear one. I have not run out of grace for you.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4: 16 (ESV)

I’m blown away. His grace is the same as when I first fell at his feet. No matter what I’ve done, I have not tired him out. Hallelujah.

So I’m running back to the beginning. The abundant life I once experienced is too sweet to avoid for the rest of my life out of shame. And if I have to start over every day, so be it. There’s enough grace for today, tomorrow, and every day to come.

Would you join me?

Here’s to going back to those early days and sitting at the feet of our Savior. Here’s to claiming beautiful promises as true for us. Most importantly, here’s to believing that the grace of Jesus is just as lovely as he claims. I pray he keeps pleasantly surprising us.

I hope you are encouraged today. Shame is a nasty beast, but I’ve watched Jesus tear me from it’s grip. I’m confident there is grace upon grace for you, too.

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

John 1:16 (ESV)

Would you let me know how I can be praying for you? I can’t wait to share your joy–thanks for taking part in mine.

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